Bigfoot trouble: Mid-tarsal break NOT indicative of Bigfoot anymore

This story is from a few weeks ago. I just got a chance now to look into the implications for Bigfoot research. It is, shall we say, another section of the Sasquatch evidence house of cards that has crumbled.

BBC News – Ape-like feet ‘found in study of museum visitors’.

Scientists have discovered that about one in thirteen people have flexible ape-like feet.

A team studied the feet of 398 visitors to the Boston Museum of Science.

The results show differences in foot bone structure similar to those seen in fossils of a member of the human lineage from two million years ago.

Jeremy DeSilva from Boston University and a colleague asked the museum visitors to walk barefoot and observed how they walked by using a mechanised carpet that was able to analyse several components of the foot.

And what he found showed that a significant number of humans have this trait. Very curious. But this puts Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum, Idaho State University professor and Bigfoot expert, in an interesting position. He has stated, and published that Sasquatch/Bigfoot prints frequently show a mid-tarsal break and this is indicative of the prints NOT being human:

Perhaps the most significant observation relating to this trackway was the evidence of a pronounced flexibility in the midtarsal joint. Several examples of midfoot pressure ridges indicate a greater range of flexion at the transverse tarsal joint than permitted in the normal human tarsus. This is especially manifest in the footprint figured below, in which a heel impression is absent. Evidently, the hindfoot was elevated at the time of contact by the midfoot. Due to the muddy conditions, the foot slipped backward, as indicated by the toe slide-ins, and a ridge of mud was pushed up behind the midtarsal region.

Here is another published paper [PDF]

Meldrum has to revise his ideas now. This is how science works. What does this mean for Bigfoot evidence. Well, it weakens it just a bit more. After all these years, in normal science progress, the support for a theory should be getting better. We do not see that in Bigfoot research. The cards just continue to fall.

Midtarsal break in apes (left), not humans (right), is not accurate.

Midtarsal break in apes (left), not humans (right), is not accurate.

I also caught sight of this article today with Meldrum saying the evidence points to its existence. Sadly, no. The evidence is weak and the GOOD evidence that is STILL missing is damning. It will be interesting to see how Dr. Meldrum responds. However, he is embarking on the ambitious Falcon Project to continue his search.

Addition: It has already been determined that FAKE feet can make prints with an apparent midtarsal ridge.

Tip: Jeb Card

  24 comments for “Bigfoot trouble: Mid-tarsal break NOT indicative of Bigfoot anymore

  1. June 16, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    To be fair it’s not so much a house of cards as it is a hovel of cards. Possibly a debris hut of cards.

  2. June 16, 2013 at 9:06 PM

    Verrrrry interesting…. As you said, it will be interesting to see what Jeff says.

  3. John B
    June 16, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    He (Meldrum) could claim that some humans have Bigfoot Genes.

  4. Kitty Lapin Agile
    June 16, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    Since Jeff makes his living hunting Bigfoot, I imagine he will see this as no problem. In fact, it may tie in with Bigfoot being related to humans.

  5. June 16, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Though it changes the fact that the prints “cannot be human”, it does not change the fact that the prints “are not human”, but only made by humans with whatever hoaxing tools they happened to be using. Save, of course, for the mistaken bear prints.

    I am also interested to see how Jeff will respond to this.

  6. spookyparadigm
    June 16, 2013 at 10:25 PM

    Some of the comments I’ve seen on these stories are already trying to push it in a racist direction. The discovery of different populations of archaic H. sapiens, and interbreeding with the modern human line, in Europe, Asia, and Africa is, as I have feared for some years now, being re-adapted (unscientifically) to old racist ideas of distinct subsets of humans. I’m not sure why paleoanthropologists and historical geneticists didn’t realize this was going to happen and get out ahead of it. Then again, I’m writing an article right now on a similar dynamic in archaeology, and I suspect it is something most archaeologists have never thought of, so yeah.

    Human-Bigfootery (the growing sub-branch that prefers something more human, often hybrid, instead of Gigantopithecus), is closely aligned stylistically with this sort of thinking and the larger populist rejection of science as an institution.

    In fact, if I had to break down Bigfootery, its main components at this point would be

    – the old-school Ape school, that thinks science is largely accurate and a method for inquiry (though YMMV when it comes to actual methods), but in this case is wrong, and its greatest mission is to correct science in this regard. This is the Meldrum-style, and the style of most of the famous cryptozoologists in the post-WWII era until the 1970s

    vs.

    – the Forest People school, that Bigfoot etc. range from being an intelligent offshoot of humanity with possibly extraordinary intellect and powers, up to being a hybrid, including possibly one modified or created by non-human forces (ET or deity). While there is variation, this is the form of Bigfootery that also invokes conspiracies (a hidden species of ape strains credulity but at least feels plausible, whereas an intelligent species with ties to our own origins existing alongside, pretty much requires conspiracy theory), completely rewriting human history and evolution, and generally rejects institutional science entirely, either by running their own style of science, or going even farther and elevating personal meditative/habituation experiences, psychic communication, etc.. This group won’t care much about mid-tarsal breaks, and a number of them don’t like Meldrum and his kind much anyway, seeing them as too scientific or too skeptical.

  7. spookyparadigm
    June 16, 2013 at 10:35 PM

    @Kitty, Meldrum has a real job, he actually is in a good position from a basic financial standpoint of changing his attitudes based on evidence. However, as it is pretty much his entire claim to fame re: bigfoot, and that’s what he’s become best known for, I can’t say I’m expecting him to do so.

    Now, to be fair, the tracks in question are still larger than human generally. But it does make the “midtarsal break” as a shibboleth of super-secret knowledge not so hot, given that 8% of people is not at all rare.

  8. June 17, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    @spookyparadigm

    > old racist ideas of distinct subsets of humans

    Incredibly, Nancy Leider refashioned the old religious/racist ideas of separate creation in her book Zeta Talk. She claims aliens used a non-extant ape race as the base for six separate genetic experiments; each created the ancestor of the five current human “races” (one of the ape-human races went extinct, she says). As you might expect, she then revives essentialism, assigning social and character traits to each race, speculating on how these traits were shaped by (unverifiable) prehistoric events.

  9. June 17, 2013 at 1:18 AM

    This does presume that hoaxers have always known that people have a mid-tarsal break long before researchers at Boston University demonstrated it. So the real mystery is how the hoaxers knew that was the case.

  10. spookyparadigm
    June 17, 2013 at 1:51 AM

    @terry A case I was not aware of (actually I vaguely was, but not the specifics), but fitting a far larger pattern I am (supposed to be) writing an article right now on how the same themes like that keep popping up again and again in pseudoarchaeology, and I think I have an idea that may be somewhat useful regarding it.

    @mxyzptlk I don’t think it is so much the case of hoaxers knowing it in advance (if anything, hoaxers would be better to hoax the break if it is thought to be non-human, which is the reason Meldrum is so fixated on it). This news largely knocks some support out from bigfoot prints being anything terribly special (something already seen that fake feet can cause the same effect). But further, it is one more example of actual science leaving para-lore in the dust. Not debunking it, but increasingly removing the gaps into which it can fit (or alternatively prompting it to leave attempts to fit into the gaps at all, hence supernatural creep).

  11. June 17, 2013 at 2:13 AM

    @spookyparadigm (it was a joke)

  12. Graham
    June 17, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    @Spookyparadigm & @terrythecensor

    The version I heard of ‘different evolutionary origins for different races’ was that the various races represented different branchings off from the same origin species, needless to say, Negros were the last to branch off…

  13. Drewbot
    June 17, 2013 at 9:35 AM

    Dr. Meldrum is convinced of the Gigantopithecus lineage. It has been posted on his timeline, and he has not responded to the article as of yet. Will he be forced to discard some of the prints that were considered Bigfoot solely on their mid-tarsal flexibility? We await his response.

  14. June 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    Well, Meldrum could admit there is a superficial resemblance, but (place rebuttal here) Not going to put words in his mouth …you can imagine though.

  15. spookyparadigm
    June 20, 2013 at 9:36 PM

    The number of bigfoot sites and blogs that have addressed this story is astounding.

  16. June 20, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    You mean none? They are busy with tornado and trampoline videos. It must be slow on the Bigfoot “evidence” these days.

  17. spookyparadigm
    June 20, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    One of several that prefers to talk about the Squatch Novelty call instead.

  18. Paul
    June 21, 2013 at 10:34 PM

    The PGF is the mother of everything Bigfoot I just want to know the truth because the proponents are so convincing. Please do more on this subject.

  19. Paul
    June 21, 2013 at 10:37 PM

    The Falcon project seems kind of silly though they have already failed with sattelite photos and hot air balloons so I’m not sending any money just yet.

  20. June 22, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    1) It is a fact that there are recognizable phenotypic traits among humans around the globe.
    2) Some traits appear abruptly, as would be expected in populations that were isolated
    3) Some traits are continuous, although not necessarily linear in relation to distance.

    In population biology terms we can refer to related, but diverging genetic units as races, or subspecies. It is of course not politically correct to apply such terminology to humans. It is also true that we are in a period of dispersal and integration with the possibility of blended traits and homogeneity.

  21. June 22, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    I asked Dr. Meldrum if he had additional goals with the project. There will doubtless be significant heat signature observations thus this data can actually be *useful* for wildlife studies. Comment was erased and clearly ignored. That would be an easier sell with the fringe benefit of increasing the odds of seeing something new, whether that is a huge stinky ape-like critter that has the powers of the bionic man, able to leap from mountain to mountain, toss boulders like skipping stones, and turn invisible or skeedaddle when human brain waves appear on the oscilloscope.

  22. June 22, 2013 at 3:58 AM

    Lastly, the only fair comparison to the stride and footprint of bigfoot is to people who do *not* wear shoes. There are differences in the arches of people who do and do not wear shoes. It’s apples and oranges.

  23. Paul
    June 22, 2013 at 6:42 AM

    I did a search and found a heavy discussion on the Bigfootforums.com under ->Fiml/Video/Photos/Audio -> Patterson-Gimlin Film -> Patty’s Feet…and the Footprints. They are in complete doubt that the footprints were fake but I couldn’t join in because I’m not accepted as a member?

  24. craig
    February 27, 2014 at 3:00 PM

    interesting study. glad to see it on your site sharon. BF inquiry needs to be honest, open, and adaptive to new information. unfortunately, a very low percentage of people that are curious about BF agree with that. hey, I really enjoy the mystery around the subject and I would love for BF to be real and proven with scientific methods, but I’m not willing to suspend truth, logic and thorough analysis to fake myself into believing it.

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